Eventually, all television series must come to an end. Either a beloved show sputters to its death, the creative well run dry or ratings determine a show’s fate and the characters you’ve come to love simply aren’t around anymore, their stories unresolved. There are instances in which networks and producers try to plan ahead and a lot time needed to wrap things up before the last credit comes on screen. The BBC does this all the time, and lately the major networks have been trying to find ways to wrap up television show, especially in this era of TV on DVD, in which fans can relive every moment again and again. We get to watch the heroes ride off into the sunset and the villains brought down. If the producers do things right, after a show ends it will live on in memories and DVD players for years to come.
When Lost went into the light this past May, they did so with one of the most divisive finales in television history. Despite the huge ratings and the generous number of Emmy nominations for that remarkable piece of television, simply called “The End,” surf the web or strike up a conversation with Lost fans and you’ll probably find opinions for it split down the middle. Some loved the bold gesture of choosing a hopeful ending for the characters, remaining true to claims that the show was always about the characters first, the mysteries/sci-fi elements second. The other half of the spectrum called executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the men who shepherded the show, assholes and demanded six years of their life back. The latter group wanted answers and instead they got more mysteries and…a happy ending! I guess that could be a little frustrating.
Personally, I found the Lost finale to be quite satisfying. After watching it for my 5th time this week (finally deleting it from my DVR), I was still moved by the emotional moments and had my fists clenched during most of the big action sequences (Jack leaping in the air to attack Man in Black/Locke still gets me). I was prepared not to get tons of answers. Let’s face it, there was just no way Lindelof and Cuse would have been able to do that without eating into the climactic story they wanted to tell. As for the reveal of what the sideways world was? I loved it. We got to see the characters unite to go to a better place and in the end, the show sent out a positive message.
After the ending, going back and watching the episodes from season 6 become a different experience. You can see the clues that the writers placed in these final episodes hinting to the viewers that the sideways world wasn’t a “real” world. Besides obvious clues like Jack’s bleeding neck and the new physical scars he carried around, there were subtle shifts in time and place that, when you string the episodes together, slowly reveal that this other world is not of our world. I found that very rewarding.
However, there are those who still have nagging questions and the producers of Lost thought that they’d try to appease those fans. Thus, they shot a 12 minute epilogue of sorts called “The New Man in Charge,” a bonus feature exclusive to the 6th Season DVD set (and the more expensive complete Lost collection). The Hurley Bird? Solved. The food drops? Solved. The reason women couldn’t get pregnant? Solved. In fact, it’s as if the producers and writers tallied a list of some of the most bitched about mysteries and decided to throw a bone to their loyal fans. Was it necessary? Absolutely not. But it’s still kind of fun to watch.
There are other bonus features on the complete 6th season DVD, including commentary on several episodes. My favorite featurette is “The End: Crafting A Final Season.” In it, the principal members of the Lost production are interviewed; but we also hear from producers like Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and James Burrows (Cheers), who reflect on bringing their own famed series to successful ends. Also interesting is “See You In Another Life, Brotha,” which focuses on the sideways world storylines. There are bloopers and deleted scenes and I’m sure, once I’ve had the time to dig further, I’ll come across Easter Eggs to keep me happy.
In the end, though, it isn’t the special features or even the epilogue that will keep me coming back to Lost; it’s the show itself. With the show’s run complete and DVD collections of all 6 seasons available to own by everyone, the characters, the drama, the brilliant music and overall, the story of Lost will keep people entertained for years to come. Or it just might piss them off.